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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 18, 2006

House votes Monday on bill for model curriculum

By Treena Shapiro
Advertiser Government Writer

ABOUT THE BILLS

Senate Bill 3059 (Senate Draft 2)

This bill would require public schools across the state to align curriculum across each grade level.

The House Education Committee will make a decision on the bill at 2 p.m. Monday.

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The House Education Committee will decide Monday whether to advance a proposal that would require the Department of Education to implement a model curriculum for each grade level.

The committee heard testimony yesterday but did not have enough members present to take a vote.

Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto testified in opposition to the measure, expressing the Board of Education's position along with the department's.

"The board's position is that the Legislature should not legislate curriculum," she said. "The board sets policy and works with the department to develop the curriculum."

However, Dave Rolf, executive director of the Hawai'i Automobile Dealers' Association, said, "Curriculum is the purview of the board, but funding is the purview of the Legislature."

Rolf advocates for a model curriculum along the lines of the Core Knowledge Curriculum created by E.D. Hirsch Jr., which would cost the state about $5 million. Hirsch, a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, is the author of a book titled "Cultural Literacy What Every American Needs to Know."

While Hamamoto does not want to see the Legislature mandate a curriculum for the schools, she did tell committee members that the DOE would welcome an additional $5 million to develop and implement its own curriculum and assessment.

According to the superintendent, the bill actually calls for duplication of the DOE's efforts to ensure consistent grade-level standards through the Hawai'i Content and Performance Standards III. The state's academic standards offer grade-level and course-specific standards every public school student in the state is expected to meet.

The Hawai'i State Teachers Association said it supports the intent of the bill, in the sense that there should be continuity in curriculum throughout the state. But in written testimony, union president Roger Takabayashi noted that teachers have been working for years to achieve this.

Takabayashi suggested that the bill goes against the intent of the two-year-old Reinventing Education Act, which calls for greater school-level flexibility. "We believe this measure would hurt more than help the schools," Takabayashi said in his testimony statement.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee passed the measure earlier this month to continue discussion on the issue, which senators said could help the DOE more efficiently teach the academic skills required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Reach Treena Shapiro at tshapiro@honoluluadvertiser.com.